The dehumanising treatment of minorities in Pakistan is not hidden from anyone. What’s worse is that this discrimination doesn’t just hold true for the uneducated living in far-flung villages, but also the genteel in cities, where many a posh begum will never pollute her polished pucker with a Christian maid’s utensils, quarantined off from the rest of the household cutlery. What to talk of Christians, even mainstream ‘Muslim’ sects practice such derogatory customs against each other. The view most people subscribe to is one of utter rigidity – ‘because you don’t agree with me, that automatically makes you wrong.’
Where does this extreme religious arrogance come from? From schools, through an exclusivist religious education, a.k.a Islamiyat. By focussing wholly on Islam, (the ‘acceptable’ Sunni version) at the cost of all other world religions, we essentially lead our children on a journey of self-righteousness that makes them highly partial to their religion and discriminated against every other, while breeding within them the vanity to assume that solely what they know is correct while the rest of the world is erroneous at best and evil at worst. Of course, children should believe in their own faith with complete conviction, but does it have to be done in a manner that makes them spurn those who hold to a different belief?
As a society where every religion is not just openly preached but unreservedly practiced, Britain is second to none. There are an estimated 2.8 million Muslims (4.6% of the population) living in the UK, who are full, equal members of society in every way. There are roughly the same numbers of Christians living in Pakistan, that is, 2.8 Million (1.6% of the population). But how are these minorities treated? Christians are shunned, Hindus detested, Sikhs ridiculed, Ahmadis loathed, and Shias mocked. Read the rest of this entry
On this Pakistan Day, let’s look back to what the vision was, what the man who created the state wanted it to represent, and then let’s talk about where we are in terms of the attainment of that vision.
Mohammed Ali Jinnah’s broadcast talk to the people of the United States of America on Pakistan recorded February, 1948.
“The constitution of Pakistan has yet to be framed by the Pakistan Constituent Assembly. I do not know what the ultimate shape of this constitution is going to be, but I am sure that it will be of a democratic type, embodying the essential principle of Islam. Today, they are as applicable in actual life as they were 1,300 years ago. Islam and its idealism have taught us democracy. It has taught equality of man, justice and fairplay to everybody. We are the inheritors of these glorious traditions and are fully alive to our responsibilities and obligations as framers of the future constitution of Pakistan. In any case Pakistanis not going to be a theocratic State to be ruled by priests with a divine mission. We have many non-Muslims –Hindus, Christians, and Parsis –but they are all Pakistanis. They will enjoy the same rights and privileges as any other citizens and will play their rightful part in the affairs of Pakistan.” Read the rest of this entry
I’m sure many of you shared the horror I experienced when confronted with the shocking images of Waheeda Shah slapping away at all and sundry, that too, in the presence of both the police and the media. While we all agree that Waheeda Shah committed an overt violation of Human Rights, are we missing something here? Maybe the countless slaps being bestowed on the soft cheeks of hardened children as they fail to serve the mistress bed-tea on time? Or the punch on the face of the overworked maid as she accidentally stumbles and shatters an expensive piece of china? Or even the nightly kick in the leg of the tormented housewife as she says something to offend her husband and in-laws?
This slap-culture is what has bred a generation of Waheedas, impatient and invincible. In a society where a child grows up seeing his father slapping his mother every now and again without any consequences, the lesson learnt by the child is a dangerous one; that it’s acceptable to vent in this manner. And more so, that nobody’s going to object. We can’t, of course, entirely blame the woman for enduring such abuse, for her options are very limited and hardly attractive. But surely some amount of responsibility lies with those women who are in a position to retaliate against such brutal treatment. Thus, while the poor maid can’t do much about her plight, the educated housewife surely can. Similarly, although one can’t expect a child worker to stand up for his rights, we must expect, and encourage, political workers like the ones targeted by Waheeda to stand up and be counted. Read the rest of this entry